Stardust Startups is a non-profit providing support for high-impact startup entrepreneurs all over the world. They specialize in micro-grants for sustainable growth and development in the areas of sustainability, health, and learning.
Kirk Talbott spoke recently with friends at Stardust Startups. Their conversation was included in the Stardust Startups March 2021 newsletter, The Constellation.
The lessons we’ve learned
It’s crazy to think that it’s been one year since COVID, since all of our lock-downs. There’s been so much loss and tragedy. . . but Spring is almost here, and the clouds may be beginning to fade away.
We have learned a lot from this time to ourselves, whether it’s ways of: taking care of our mental and physical health, using technology to communicate and learn differently than before, discovering meaning and purpose, taking action for the planet, or exploring new interests…
We have been given the opportunity to think differently about our personal growth, our our relationships, and about the world.
As Jean and I talked about this last week, it reminded us of our grieving time and our lengthy journes from that grief to real purpose and fulfillment.
Without rain, the plants can grow and thrive. Tragedy strengthens us, unites us, and makes us complex and beautiful . . .
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
Kirk Talbott is a huge Stardust supporter, and has been from the very beginning. He’s helped us morally and financially, and is just a staple in the Stardust community!
He’s also a volunteer t’ai chi and qi gong instructor, teaching all age groups in the Maryland and DC area for more than 11 years. I asked him a few questions to get his unique perspective on making the best of the current situation. . .
Stardust: Everyone was faced with COVID restrictions this year. . . and you were able to pivot your t’ai chi lessons into a virtual class. Could you explain a little bit more about this experience?
Kirk: Thank you, Stardust, for the opportunity to share a few experiences and insights from our All Good T’ai Chi group.
COVID has presented difficulties and unexpected benefits for everyone. Surviving or thriving depends on one’s attitude and approach.
We struggled to find the best ways to use Zoom to teach and practice qi gong (stretching/breathing exercises) and t’ai chi, an ancient, internal, Chinese martial art.
One of the best ways to test softness, yin/yang empty and full feeling, and true ‘gun fu’ (literally ‘skill acquired through practice) is through touch or ‘sensing hands’.
“Surviving or thriving depends on one’s attitude and approach.”
While not possible on Zoom, we have found other ways to encourage each practitioner to relax, release, open and feel the neurological pathways for health and healing.
We engage in socializing to connect before class as people join in the Zoom, sharing information on vaccinations and other topical subjects.
We celebrate everyone’s birthday with a Zoom photo card and a group shout-out. We play all sorts of music from classical to reggae, team teach different ways to practice quiet standing and moving meditation.
It seems to work well as we regularly have 25-30 or more t’ai chi players, mostly seniors, here in Montgomery County, Maryland enjoying several practices on Zoom every week for a year now.
Stardust: Mental health is one of our focus areas for innovative projects. We believe more emphasis on mental health and finding ways to heal in this era is more important than ever. Would you share with the Stardust community some insight you have on this topic?
Kirk: Just as with your team at Stardust and countless other authentic, grassroots groups, our All Good T’ai Chi community as strengthened of time by focusing on the most important aspects of life: health, awareness and consideration of others.
We find that by exercising mind and body in an integrated, relaxed and proven system of meditation and moving form with postures, we can let go of stress and open to healing.
Most of stress is self-generated and springs from the ‘monkey mind’ either worrying about the past or anxious about the future.
T’ai Chi emphasizes simple principles of suspending, releasing, moving from the waist and feeling empty and full (yin/yang) to guide us through our 37 posture ‘short form.’
Whether yoga, walking in the woods, biking or just feeling gratitude–as your wonderful newsletter has mentioned, our mental, physical and spiritual health depends on our mindset and actions.
Stardust: What makes you a Stardust supporter?
Kirk: When Angus died, my wife, Yvette, and I witnessed Jean turning grief into positive action. We have marveled at what Jean and Camille have built around Stardust and Angus’s beautiful life and vision.
We applaud all the Stardust team, their creativity, endurance, love and inspiration.
The world is richer and hope kindles stronger.